Tag Archives: grandparents

Gold Status Achived

Oh Hai cuties.

peg and steve

So, 50 years ago today , these two adorable, amazing, fabulous, fantastic folks tied the knot.

At an age when most people are still at the HEIGHT of teenaged dumbassery -that is totally a word-  they were looking at each other over a wedding license and seeing the future of a family.

I know that “times were different” then, and it would be easy to use that reasoning when thinking about them getting married at 18 and just chalk it up to “different times.”  I think that through the years, growing up, my sister and I have done that in our minds – painting a bit of a simplified, if not idealized, version of our parents’ love story in our heads.

But that’s not really it.   Before they were Mom and Dad, or Grandma and Grandpa, they were Peg and Steve….  There was first dates and butterflies and going steady and parental opinions and all the ups and downs of high school dating.

And also, there were two kids from two families, each with a history that would help shape their decisions regarding the future.   They may have been young, but their marriage was not something either of them entered into naively.   Not one bit.

I watch them together now – and I marvel at the connection.  They are two complete and separate people, but for the past 50 years they have shared the timeline of one life.  We have watched them cheer each other on, defend each other, sacrifice for each other, draw close to each other in times of sadness, or fright, or pain…   Their relationship formed the foundation of how our family would treat each other, and those we found connection with, in this world.   Has it been tested?  Well –  they had twin daughters… who were teenagers for a time… AND ONE OF THEM WAS ME.  Sooooo, yeah.

It has been tested.

But that foundation of our family – that always has been, and is now, and ever will be long after all of us have come and gone and generations have come to take our places – remains.  Somehow, under the weight of each new generation it supports, it only gets stronger.

So today I want to say thank you to my mom and dad.  50 years ago you made a brave choice to start a life together – and set in motion the story of all of us.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY – Maude and Daddy (Mom and Daddy, Nene/Nana and Pop, Steve and Peg)

We all love you so.

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The Shop

I am officially no longer the plumbing princess of the Northern Suburbs.
I didn’t bestow that title on myself, it was actually a (clearly misguided) guidance counselor in our youth that called Dr Sissy and myself that, once upon a time.
I digress.
This morning, after 20 years of business ownership, my parents signed the papers selling their plumbing and HVAC company to a new owner and officially started the retired portion of their life together. I am so proud of them, and SO EXCITED for them – they have worked so hard and deserve this next phase so richly.
(Here comes Keri’s big ol’ but)
BUT…
But, it is bittersweet. I was at “the shop” (how we have always referred to the building the business is in) two days ago helping pull personal files off of computers and phones, and the new manager came in with his wife and 2 year old daughter. She was an adorable ball of energy running all over checking everything out. Then mom and daughter drove off in their car and the new manager drove off in one of the company vans. I was overwhelmed with memories. That was us. They were the new us.
You see, for 19 years before buying the business, my dad worked his way up to from entry level to Master Plumber with full HVAC certification and foreman/manager/VP. My mom would bring my sister and I to the old location of “the shop,” and it was us who would run around checking everything out, bugging the guys for gum and sitting with my dad while he ate his lunch out of a cooler and drank coffee from his old metal thermos. It had always been us growing up in those spaces. I stood there, watching them all drive out from behind the fence, and I breathed in the familiar smell of oil and earth and sheet metal that equals the shop in my mind. I remembered everything.
I remember standing in our bedroom window, waving goodbye to dad every morning when we were little as he drove off to work in the company van each day, and being so excited when he came home at night. Sometimes it was so late we wouldn’t see him before we went to bed, other times he would be home very early in the afternoon and he would challenge us to long jump contests in the back yard. When we got older I would learn that those early days actually meant that there wasn’t enough work for everyone that day, but my parents never let it show back then.
I’d hear the van start in the middle of a cold snowy night, and peer outside my window to see my dad putting chains on the tires to go fix a furnace or frozen pipe. In the morning he would be home again and up at 5 to go open the shop and get the guys out for the day.
There were company picnics that we got to attend as children, as well as Christmas parties that meant Tamera the cool babysitter would come and stay with us while my dad (who ran in just in time to change out of his work shirt and steel-toes) and mom went off to celebrate.
As we grew older there was the year that we took the sides off the old dump truck and used it to carry the first prize homecoming float around the track surrounding the field during halftime. What was our float you ask? Why, a giant toilet with a replica of our opponents’ mascot swirling down the bowl, of course. (If you put the plumber’s daughters in charge, you get a chicken wire toilet covered in white napkins. Duh.)
It was in that same dump truck, borrowed from the shop, that my dad would tell me that him and mom were buying the business at the end of our senior year in HS. We were transporting a garage sale sofa that I wanted for my freshman college apartment and had my dear friend Matt in the truck with us. I screamed so loud in excitement, I probably caused the poor kid hearing loss or emotional trauma or something.
In between educational endeavors, (re: after dropping out of college the first time, or culinary school, or something,) I joined my mom in the office answering phones and entering invoices into the system. Actually, I joined my mom in the office and proceeded to fall asleep on the keyboard and enter pages of “hhhhhhhhhhh” where my nose rested on the key board every day, and soon we would discover that it was M.S. robbing me of my energy, making me dizzy and weak. I would drag myself from the doctor’s office where I had my steroid treatments back to the shop where I would eat a ginormous bag of some sort of fast food (look out, steroid Keri will rip your arm off for a Big Mac. Two would be better.) Then I would fall asleep in a heap on the floor of my dad’s office, exhausted and angry and not wanting to go back to my apartment in the city alone.
As the fog of M.S. started to lift and I found my strength again, I knew a bad day could always be cured with a drop in at the family business. It was a touchstone, a safety net, a resource, a homebase from which I could reach out into the world.
When Potter was a brand new member of my newly formed “just married” little family, he would spend days there because I was still (finally) finishing my degree and he was too barky to stay in our first little condo alone. Later when we moved back to the old hometown it would be Jr who would spend days at the shop, teetering around his playpen and hanging out with my mom and her sister as they ran the day-to-day in the office. (Aunt Carol is a MUCH less snoozy 2nd chair than I ever was!)
My dad and his guys have gone from seeing our friends running around playing barbies or ball in the basement while the family water heater was being fixed, to fixing the water heaters of those former kids while their own children run around like crazy.
It feels engrained in my soul. It is the heart of our family, and that heart has shown in the way that they have done business all of these years.
You can take the plumber’s daughter out of the shop, but I don’t think you can ever take the shop out of the plumber’s daughter. I am very proud of that part of myself – as I am very proud of it in both of my parents.
Congratulations, Maude and Daddy. You raised two (pretty damn awesome,) kids, as well as a business to be proud of. Dr Sissy and I have been proud to be the owners’ daughters and share the story of our “family business” with those we know.
We love you – and we can’t wait to see what you do next.

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Visiting Brutus.

Two Saturdays ago my mom dropped us, along with the GIGANTIC pile of crap that has to be dragged along when traveling with a small child (or maybe just my small child – but keep opinions about that quiet for Keri’s sake, m’kay,) off at the airport at a semi-insanely early hour of the day.

We checked my humongous suitcase at the counter -attention to The Mr: I am packing for TWO in that thing, OK? Most of that stuff is totally for Jr, not really I swear! Then I wheeled Jr’s carseat strapped to an old school folding luggage cart through security, on to the train and to the gate for gate-checking, and off we went to the great state of Ohio for a week of family fun with The Mr’s extended family.

In honor of this trip, I present to you:

Keri’s Fun Facts From Family Vacation!

  1. Southwest loaner car seats are actually really nice – as we learned when ours remained (lonely and abandoned) on the jet way in Denver while we jetted to the Buckeye state. It arrived later that day on a different flight – I hope they gave it a juice box and some pilot wings, flying alone is scary!
  2. Evidently, to a 4 year-old, one has not truly visited a place unless one has pooed in a potty at that place. (This includes, but is not limited to, private homes, restaurants, quaint destination Inns, and coffee shops.)
  3. My father-in-law’s chocolate martini recipe isn’t NEARLY as complicated as I previously imagined. (So. Damn. Good.)
  4. It is a good thing I took the giant suitcase *ahem, husband, as the amount of gifts bestowed upon Jr by The Mr’s generous family meant we needed the space (and my luggage gained 5 lbs.)
  5. Speaking of gaining 5 lbs… the Midwest has a LOT of good food. I did my best to eat it all.
  6. Fireflies are kinda scary looking in the full light of day.
  7. If you ask Jr about the Columbus Zoo, where he spent like, 5 fun filled hours looking at all the animals and frolicking in glee, he will only tell you that the animatronic pirate out front “was scary but it’s ok ‘cause he can’t move from there.” (oh, pooed at the Zoo too, BTW.)
  8. Deep-fried,Bacon-wrapped Deviled Eggs are an actual thing. Long live The Walrus !
  9. Ohio Squirrels don’t look like Colorado Squirrels – they grow ‘em lean and scrappy in the O.H.
  10. You can get Brutus the Buckeye on literally ANY product you could ever think of in your mind. EVER.
  11. O-H-I-Oh my effing gawd does humidity jack up Keri’s hair.
  12. Most importantly: You can pack a lot of family fun and shenanigans into one week!

I am not going to lie – travel sometimes takes me out of my comfort zone, and there were some moments that I was definitely not at my best as a mom, (there was a particularly horrifying moment involving an airport escalator that is burned into my mind with regret.)

But I hope that Jr’s memories of this trip will be of all the fun adventures he had; of chasing his big cousin Adam around bugging him to play; of his great uncle calling milk “Moo Juice” and giving him high-fives; of his GaGa and Grandpa watching him proudly display his gymnastic moves in the twilight of the front yard; of late bedtimes and sweet treats and new experiences… and most importantly, of the amazing amount of love he got to soak in from his wonderful extended family during his first trip to “where Brutus lives.”

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The Age of the Questionable Decision

So Junior turned 4 last weekend.

In a blaze of Grandparent-spoiling, cupcake hogging, Superhero party glory.

Now I don’t want to jump the gun on my assumptions – we are only a week in to this whole “being 4” situation. But can I just say that week number one has been a freaking whopper.

It appears to me, in my snap judgement brain, that 4 should be known as “The Age of the Questionable Decision.”

We have had more diving off of things than I can remember him desiring to do in his whole life combined, (back yard play set, couches, stairs, footstools, beds, TOILETS…) you name it, he wants to climb it and dive off. As of this week, quite suddenly.

WHY GOD – WHY THE DIVING?

WHY!?

I had congratulated myself on a job well done with his superhero party – attendees of all ages seemed to have a great time, and Jr was surrounded with all kinds of awesome gifts to explore while we cleaned up the aftermath. All was well, right?

Except then I got a call from my life-long friend letting me know that her husband had Jr in his sights as he was riding AWAY FROM THE HOUSE and off around the corner at full pre-schooler-strength speed on his trike, with no knowledge of the parents and at least one set of grandparents all inside the house assuming he was with someone else.

(I still can’t talk about it without shaking my head… how could that happen? HOW!? I keep having flashbacks and randomly grabbing him into hugs that I am sure are stunting his growth or something.)

Guess who learned to unhook the back gate? Yep.

Guess whose daddy put a lock on said gate an hour later? Yep.

BTW – Jr stated for the record that he was “going to Texas to see his cousin.”  On a trike.  I mean adorable, yes… but scary as shit and only one of at least 4 times I have been hysterical thus far into his very short time as a 4-year-old.   Again, Keri nails the mom thing. I should write a manual, I am sure.

But we are not alone in the Age Of the Questionable Decision.

OH NO NO NO, my friends.

There’s Jr’s little friend down the street, whose father recently shared the story of his offspring running FULL THROTTLE across the park, through the cul-de-sac, and over to a neighbor’s trash can before LICKING IT, for no reason at all. Running through the street to lick a trash can like it was a giant ice cream cone = Questionable Decision.

Or one of Jr’s preschool chums who tapped me on the shoulder when I was picking him up from school this week and pointed to what was left of a bent curtain rod, held up over a window with some tape, and said proudly “ I CLIMBED THE CURTAINS TODAY!! TWICE!” Evidently after his time out from round one, he decided to give it another go. (God bless Jr’s teacher. I bet she buys her wine by the case.) Curtains as climbing wall = Questionable Decision.

I have found myself, in the small time that we have spent beginning to wade out into the deeper waters of 4 years old, leaving the wading pool of toddlerhood behind us, looking deep into Jr’s eyes, trying with no success to do some sort of Mommy Vulcan Mind Meld in an attempt to crack the nut that is 4-year-old decision-making logic.

No dice…. The kid is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a “Captain Ca’Merica” costume, laughing his head off as he careens off the porch toward the concrete.

Sigh.

Does Crazy 8s make suits out of bubble wrap?

Can you lo-jack your kid?

Do band-aids come in mega bulk?

 

Give me strength. (And eyes in the back of my head.)

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Maude.

This is my mom.
image

Actually, growing up I called her “Maude.” Now I call her “Mommy” a lot too.

I am ridiculously lucky to have her in my life, and around the corner, and so much a part of my day-to-day life.

But really, everyone in her life is lucky to have her. She is THE person you want on your team, in your corner, on your side.

She is a cheerleader, a confidante, an advisor, a shoulder, an advocate, and a fierce warrior for those she loves – in ways and at levels that I pray I will someday come anywhere near to achieving.

Teenage Keri was borderline awful to her – I reveled in finding ways to piss her off and defy her at times in my younger years. To this day (many MANY moons beyond being “teenage Keri,”) I will wake up out of a dead sleep remembering something crappy I did and fight the urge to call her and apologize for the jerk that girl was. (Sorry Mommy, seriously.) Time and time again she chose to see the best in me even when I was showing her only my worst. She chose to lift me up and support and empower me. (I might have chosen to lock me in my room if I was her.)

As her life-long best friend, Karen slowly lost her painful battle with cancer, my mom helped her family coordinate care. She spent days with Karen, helping her and listening to her and being next to her. I know it made her sad. I know it broke her heart.   Standing with someone in the final moments of a life, is impossibly difficult. I believe it is also an honor and a God given opportunity to call upon the strength of your humanity to be a gift for someone you love as their life comes to a close. I know that belief comes solely from my observations of my Mom as she cared for Karen; and for my Grandpa, her “Daddy,” as he slipped away as well. So much of how I view life, and my role in the world, has been shaped by the way I view her in it.

There have been times of profound loss and trial in her life, some at ages younger than I can comprehend experiencing such difficulty. I know they have shaped her, creating in her heart a combination of deep, genuine empathy, and a passion to fight for those she cares for with all she can give.

It leaves me in awe.

She is warm and welcoming, funny, smart, reasonable, supportive, fiery, compassionate, no-nonsense, generous, strong, beautiful, selfless, and so loving.

And so loved.

She is the mom I pray I can be to Jr. She is the person I pray I can become.

Happy Mother’s Day, Maude. Words don’t exist for how blessed I know we are to have you.

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